Riff-bending acrobatics dominate the varied corners of modern metalcore, the denizens of which no longer live and die by the breakdown. Yet mastering the fretboard alone is no longer enough to stand out among the cleverly named masses. As with any genre of music, at the end of the day it comes down to who actually writes the most memorable songs. Here to set a new standard in this regard are Atlanta’s mathcore masterminds The Callous Daoboys, who do not set out to just leave your head spinning with breakneck time changes and dynamic riffs, but seem to actually care about writing songs amid the chaos they create. Helming this whirlwind of sound is vocalist Carson Pace, who might not have the range or power of Mike Patton, but employs his voice well as ringleader of this sonic circus. Screaming is his primary love language, though when he does sing melodically, he displays a great deal of potential in his pipes, which can only grow stronger in time.
There are plenty of hooks in the breakdowns and various grooves in the band’s otherwise manic onslaught, but even as Callous Daoboys shun the conventional songwriting formula, their zany antics become a method in and of itself. Throughout the album they prove themselves capable enough musicians to work in varied genres outside of metal or hardcore. “Title Track” is the album’s most thoughtful song in terms of its vocal melodies, infectious enough to compel repeated listens. It settles into a palm muted groove that backs off and gives enough room for some backing harmonization with Pace’s most refined vocal lines. It’s also the most accessible moment on an album that goes in any number of unpredictable directions.
“Field Sobriety Test” finds the band going in full-throttle freakout mode. With the exception of the sprinkles of jazz licks sometimes sprinkled about, drummer Sam Williamson is often pushing even further into explosive instrumental feats than the guitarists. Bassist Jack Buckalew keeps a relatively lower profile by comparison. And while the band remains anchored not too far from a mid-’00s vintage metalcore sound. To their credit, however, they employ enough shades of sound to push them to a unique level all their own.
The guitars carry a more aggressive attack in the twitching onslaught of “The Elephant Man in the Room,” with more than enough dazzle to exceed the expectations of progressive metal for today’s younger metal listeners. The jazzy guitar passages are a highlight, but the twitchy nature of the song ultimately consume it. “What is Delicious? Who Swarms?” follows a path not too far removed from that one, with even more compelling melodic elements. While in many cases the term “progressive” can get attached to extended passages of instrumental noodling, here they allow the song to actually progress and take the listener on a disturbing journey.
Celebrity Therapist is, simply put, a lot of fun. Callous Daoboys are one of the most effective bands in pushing this sound to new sonic frontiers—essential listening for those who seek more thoughtful, adventurous directions in metalcore.
Label: MNRK Heavy